When there’s a sudden crisis, most brands have the same reaction: fear. They think about slicing marketing budgets, withdrawing from advertising channels, and weathering the storm by hunkering down.
But what if a crisis means you should do the exact opposite?
It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. Some of the best brands find their footing during a crisis.
While the branding opportunities during a crisis might look different from typical opportunities, it doesn’t mean you can’t find them. During the COVID-19 pandemic, brands like Zoom were able to capitalize by becoming a more mainstream way for health care providers to connect with patients.
During a crisis, customers need change. If you can position your own brand to fit with these changes, you’ll find opportunities you didn’t know were there. But finding those opportunities sometimes means you have to be a contrarian. Here’s how—and why—you should find new marketing opportunities in an uncertain world:
Be a Contrarian: Looking for Opportunities When Everyone Else is Cutting Down
“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”-Warren Buffet
Contrarian investing has been around for a long time. But while Warren Buffet’s famous quote might seem intuitive, it’s hard to practice. When businesses are cutting back and people are afraid of tomorrow’s headlines, it can seem like the worst possible time in the world to think about expanding your branding opportunities.
Yet that’s exactly what your brand should do.
Crises Force Brands to Find New Avenues for Success
No one wants a crisis, but each crisis has a way of forcing companies to find new avenues for reaching their customers.
During the Great Depression, Procter and Gamble—already selling to American grocery customers and noticing grocery store demand chipping away at their profits—knew that people would still need to buy soap. It was during this crisis that P&G modernized its branding efforts. Rather than slash costs, P&G took an active approach of the following strategies:
P&G understood one thing: during an economic depression, their products could become more important to the average consumer than ever. Penny-pinching grocery shoppers needed effective cleaners they could depend on, and P&G capitalized on the depression to create lifelong bonds with customers. They could have simply slashed costs. Instead, they looked for opportunities.
Being a Contrarian Brand-Builder in the Digital Age
In hindsight, placing radio advertisements during the Great Depression seems obvious. But at the time, the obvious strategy would have been to cut back on costs and make every product as cheap as possible.
This same “contrarian” mindset is available today. And it can be just as effective.
There are advantages to branding efforts during a crisis. You read that right. If you have the resources and time to manage it, there are distinct advantages to branching out during a crisis. Many of the principles that guide branding during ordinary times become even pronounced when a crisis is on. Here’s how:
How to Plan for the Aftermath of a Crisis
Too many brands think about things in the short-term future. And why not? They’re worried about making payroll. About fitting their expenses within a budget. About what to do if they can’t afford to make commercial real estate lease payments.
But even if you struggle during a crisis, long-term thinking is still available to you.
During a crisis, a lot of people have to adapt to short-term thinking. But if you can find the time and resources to create a long-term plan for your brand, you put yourself at an immediate advantage.
A Step-by-Step Game Plan for Identifying Your Brand’s Opportunities
These ideas are all great. But what’s an actual game plan you can use to find brand opportunities during a crisis? We’ve put together some of the fundamental principles you can immediately put into action:
A crisis can spell the end for some brands. For other brands, though, it can be a time to plant seeds. Crises don’t last forever, and your brand is going to need a game plan for what happens when the crisis lets up. Will your brand come out stronger, with more opportunities discovered? Or will it lose out to the competition who were able to look at the big picture? Now’s the time to decide.